Author Archives: jovankabalac

About jovankabalac

i'm a very carefree person. I like having fun and try to not take things too seriously. I love traveling and hope to somehow, make a difference in this world.



My last week in Romania was spent at Jeremy’s site in Valea Calgureasca at the last ever PCRO GLOW/TOBE camp and I couldn’t have ended my service on a better note. The camp had an extremely rocky start due to an emergency change of venue about 4 days before the camp was set to start which, in turn, caused many other issues such as communication problems, travel adjustments, and lack of resources. Throughout the week we felt like we were flying by the seat of our pants trying to plan activities and constantly having to re-arrange the schedule.

This year was the first time SPV had a co-ed camp which included GLOW and TOBE together and it proved to be quite an interesting experience. Throughout the camp, we at the girls’ camp had our fair share drama and minor discipline issues that we had to deal with and with the boys being just one floor below the girls, we had a whole other set of issues that we didn’t even think about before hand. Despite the issues, the kids had a great experience and I do think there were more benefits of having the two camps together than withdrawals. And at the end of the day, if they went home with even a few pieces of knowledge and experience that empowered them and made an impact in their lives, that is enough for me and I can call it a success.

I also have to send a shout out to what i consider the best working team that I have been a part of during my service. We had three volunteers come from Moldova (Kim, Matt, Julie) along with having our very own Abby, Jon, Stephen and Jeremy and our HCN from SPV Andreea. The 9 of us formed a fabulous team and I enjoyed working with everyone and loved the passion and creative problem solving that everyone brought to the table.


I’m back in the states now which is just a whirlwind of emotions that I honestly haven’t processed yet. Peace Corps was an experience of a lifetime that I will cherish as long as I live. I have made amazing friends, functioned in multiple languages at a time, and learned so many lessons about myself and the world around me. I’m so grateful to have had this experience and thank you for following along in the 2 year journey.



This week has been an absolute whirlwind of events and emotions. I have barely been at home and have been hanging out with everyone as much as possible. I got to say bye to most of my students and was given some amazing presents including a homemade crystal, jewelry, a traditional Romanian shirt, books, a big pink bear, a t-shirt with all of the teachers on it, dozens of flowers including a HUGE 45 rose bouquet from 9A, a personal serenade to my favorite song “Mi-e Sete de Tine”, a traditional Paunita, and the opportunity to milk a goat.

Friday during the end of year festivities I got the privilege to say a few words as the closing which started my emotional day of crying. The teachers planned a party for me afterwards which lasted for about 8 hours and where I got the chance to address and thank all of them individually, milk my goat, and was also given an absolutely beautiful cake.

My experience here has been absolutely amazing and I am so happy that I got to share it with so many wonderful people. Today is my last day in town and I am finishing packing up and then I have a birthday party to go to that I would not want to miss for anything in the world.

Once I get done with GLOW camp (which has been a barrel of stress planning for all of us) and return home i’ll post the pictures of these past few days.

For your viewing pleasure: Me milking a goat.

So Soon


Sydney posted this link on my facebook wall today and I have decided to dedicate a blog post to answer each one of these things.

1. Convenience Stores

-Actually, most of the little markets in small towns work as convenience stores. These small stores are the only places that exist so I buy my meat, milk, and superglue all in one place.

2. Diet Soda

-My favorite soft drink is Diet Coke. I want my Diet Coke back. None of this “light” stuff.

3. Ice

-It’s not so much the ice but the quantity. People usually have ice but if they give you some it’s a cube or two. That just isn’t enough.

4. Ice Coffee

-I don’t like coffee.

5. Online Streaming

-You obviously don’t know how technologically savvy Romania is. This has not been a problem. I can list you 4 sites that rival hulu off the top of my head.

6. Driving a car


7. Froyo

-I’ve had it twice here. Not nearly as good and really expensive.

8. Electrical Outlets

-I’m happy that i won’t have to use adapters for 2 whole months and constantly have to switch adapters to various electronics.

9. Outlet Shopping.

-Ugh. I don’t want to think of how much of a headache that will be.

10. 24 hour drive-thru

-White Castle. That is all I have to say about that.

11. Wi-Fi/3G

-Has not been a problem. I have faster inet here than I had in the states. I’ll miss it.

12. Free bathrooms

-I don’t mind paying 1 leu for the bathroom if it is kept up but when I have to pay 1leu to piss in a hole in the ground with a door that smells like the inside of a sewage plant, I get annoyed.

13. Peanut butter

-I’m not a huge PB fan but not being able to have something makes you want it therefore I liked PB here. It was rarely available in the big supermarkets and really expensive. Like 5 dollars for a small jar.

14. Solo Cups

-The plastic cups here are the tiny little ones that are the size of the bathroom cups you use to rinse.

15. Personal Space

-I was huge on personal space before I left. This has probably changed the most about me. I love to hug and just have physical contact with people when I talk to them. Be it a hand on an arm, a handshake, whatever. I enjoy the lack of personal space more than I don’t.

16. Law&Order Marathons

-It’ll be nice to watch tv on a TV and not on a laptop.

17. No Smoking Zones


18. Sushi

-nom, nom, nom. For one person it’s about 60 lei which is hella expensive on an 800 lei salary.

19. Football

-I’ll miss most of football season ūüė¶

20. American Brand Candy

-The only one i miss is reeses.

21. State to State cellphone coverage.

-I’m in the middle of the mountains and have awesome coverage and internet all for about 10 dollars a month. Romania wins.

22. Swim Trunks

-It’s mainly the older generations that wear speedos.

23. Free refills

-I have paid so much for water at restaurants these past two years it’s ridiculous.

24. American Holidays

-I’ll be home for 4th of July. That’s it. ūüė¶

25. Ketchup.

-I love ketchup. Heinz Ketchup. I don’t like European ketchup and I can only get Heinz in the big cities.

26. Household appliances

-One word. DRYER!

27. Separate Checks

-It hasn’t been too bad. My budgeting/accountancy skills shave sharpened these past two years.

28. Pancakes

-These aren’t the issue. Maple Syrup is the issue. 33 lei ($10) for 300ml is highway robbery.

29. Air Conditioning

-My apartment is on the cold side. I have gotten used to the heat and sweating. It’s just a part of life. I’m interested to see how my lungs will react to A/C.

30. Drinking fountains

-We have one at school. It is used frequently but it scares me.

31. Food Delivery.

-Available in the big cities. Here you have to call the restaurant then call a cab to go pick it up for you if you really want it.

32. Screened Windows

-I have one screened window in my apartment that I made myself using my mosquito net. It hasn’t been fun.

33. Store hours

– I actually like this. You see more people enjoying themselves and having more time to relax.

34. Bagels

-I found one once, in a train station in Switzerland.

Role Play


The past two weeks Mary and I have been working with 10A and 10B on a role play about travel. They were to pair up in two groups. The first group was going to go to a city in America while the second group was to go to Great Britain. All group members had to speak and we divided them into travel agency, travellers, and locals. I helped the American groups while Mary helped the British groups. I wanted to post this video of 10A’s America group because it made me laugh so much. I love the laid back feeling of the end of the school year and doing fun stuff with the students like this. One more week of school left and then I officially leave Solomon Halita High School and the wonderful town of Singeorz-Bai.



This past week was the most emotional week for me in Romania. I’m sure I’ll cry more when I leave, but as for now, this week takes the prize.

Thursday I had my last English class with my favorite class which is XIIA. I gave them each a memento to remember me by, a dollar bill with my favorite Shel Silverstein poem stapled to it, as well as some brownies. The rest of the class we hung out, they sang Gaudeamus to me which is a song that all the seniors sing during their last class with a teacher. It is a very old Latin song that has been stuck in my head all week long since that is all i’ve been hearing.

Friday was a day full of festivities. At 9am, the seniors were walked around to all of the classrooms in the high school as well as the general school and sung Gaudeamus to all of their younger colleagues. This was followed by the graduation ceremony that started at noon in the courtyard of the school. The seniors walked in singing Gaudeamus while the whole school watched on. My director opened the ceremony and then the diplomas were given out. They started with the afternoon classes from the technical school then with D,C,B, and finished off with A. After all of the students from XIIB received their diplomas, they took the mic and not only thanked all of their teachers individually, but also gave them a present. Luci and Crina were the ones that presented me my flowers and present and naturally I cried because I wasn’t expecting it since I hadn’t taught them this semester and was just very touched. After B came A. XIIA is the only class in the high school that has a 100% graduation rate and all of the students from that class will be taking the bacalaureat exams that start in a few weeks.

After the main part of the ceremony was finished, my director spoke again and this time, to my surprise, asked me to address the senior class. I was overcome with emotion and could barely speak because I am so sad to not only see my kids leave, but know that I am leaving as well within the next month. I am told that I made most of the audience choke up but I did not notice through my own tears. The professors finished the day at school with a trip across the street to the cafe where we had some drinks and hung out before we all went our separate ways to get ready for the banquet that night.

Last night at 8pm, the Senior banquet was held for all of the graduating seniors and their professors. The night was tons of fun and I never imagined that not only would I not shed a tear, but also that I would see some of my toughest students cry like babies. It was a great night being with everyone for one last night. The times that all of these students will be able to be together and celebrate this are few and far between so I am happy that there was such a nice turnout and that everyone had fun.

Here is a video of XIIB singing Gaudeamus:

I took a ridiculous amount of pictures and you can view them all at the link below:



Poiana Narciselor (Narcissus Field)



Last Sunday Teo, Loredana, Vasi, Dana, Ionel, Adela, their daughter Eliza, and I took a hike up to Poiana Narciselor. We originally headed out thinking we could get there by car but a short way up the mountain, we realized that we couldn’t. We left the jeeps and decided to hike up to the approx 1,300 meter peak. Naturally, we found the most difficult trail to hike up and after 3 hours, we made it to the narcissus field which was very pretty and dangerously steep. ¬†Below are some pictures from the trip. For most of them, photo credit goes to Teo.

Recent Happenings


I’ve been slacking a little when it comes to blogging so I’ll recap what i’ve been up to since my last post which was Easter.

The Romanians celebrate Easter for 3 days which means the second day of Easter we didn’t have school and the third day of Easter (that Tuesday) we kinda had school. I got to school at 8am and realized that only a handful of students were present in each classroom and after seeing that most of their¬†colleagues¬†weren’t even at school they decided to leave after the first hour. All of the professors had planned on having a picnic after the school day had finished but since we ended up having an extra day off, we headed out to “iarba verde” a little bit earlier and spent most of our day in nature. There were about 30 of us that ¬†set up camp and ate, drank, played soccer and frisbee, and just enjoyed each other’s company. It was nice getting together with all of my fellow teachers since it’s a very rare thing.


I spent the next day at site as well and then I was off again to another training in the south of the country. This trip ended up being very interesting due to the ridiculousness that is Romanian travel. I had bought my train ticket online two days prior and when I was in the process of looking for the train that goes from my nearest train station to Bucuresti I saw that that train doesn’t exist anymore. The closest train that I could catch to Buc was about an hour’s drive away. One of my friends was nice enough to drive me to the farther train station. When we arrived at that station we were told that the train I was supposed to get on was not running due to a break in the tracks about 100km north. After the news we headed back to Singeorz and I decided to take a route through Cluj/Sibiu that left Singeorz at 5am and finally arrived to Craiova around 9pm.

The next day I met up with Madalina and Carmen, the two wonderful ladies who work at the Craiova American Corners, to deliver my training to a group of talented young adults that plan on holding their own development camps this summer for the elementary kids in their city. The rest of the day Madalina took me around the beautiful and might I add very clean city of Craiova. We finished the night off at her sister-in-law’s place where we attended a dinner party of about 8 people. It was really refreshing being with a group of Romanians close to my own age and discussing everything from their thoughts on the country, why they haven’t left, the economy, and the future of Romania.

Fast forwarding to last night-

The Balul Majoratului or Senior prom, organized by the 11th grade, took place at the Huka Club and, as always, was a great time. Those of you that know me really well know that I love large groups of people because I can wander. I love being able to hang out with many different groups all within the same environment. We had fun, danced, laughed, and even cried. A few of my friends and students made me cry throughout the night when they kept on telling me how much they are going to miss me with which they reminded me that I only have a short time left in Romania. One of my students even told me that one of the main reasons he transferred into the philology profile was because he wanted me to be his English teacher. That absolutely melted my heart and instantly made me tear up.

Thats the recap of the last two weeks.

On deck:

meeting with a group of Moldovans to talk about PC next weekend along with my first ever Romanian wedding.

Until next time, va pup!


Easter Vacation


Since Orthodox Easter fell in early May this year, instead of having a 2 week long spring vacation, we had 1 week of spring vacation and now we just had a 5 day Easter vacation.

The first day we had off was May 1st which is International Worker’s Day or as we know it in the States as Labor Day. On Wednesday, our first day off, Varvara invited me over to hang out for the day since I hadn’t been over to her house in months. I had been promising her husband Adi some homemade chili so I figured this was the perfect occasion to fulfil my promise. Pot of chili in hand, I headed over to Maieru where I spent the majority of the day relaxing,¬†reminiscing, and enjoying the company of Varvara and her family.

Since I don’t think I can survive if I don’t travel, Thursday morning I headed out to Anthony’s site, Negresti, to spend the rest of the Easter vacation. I have been promising him that I would come visit for the past two years and I FINALLY made it, with 2 months to spare! Anthony spent the weekend introducing me to his closest friends and students and we even got a visit from Jason who was in Iasi for a day and decided to grace us with his presence.

I got a chance to meet two amazing girls, Adnana and Andjelija. They are Anthony’s students and not only are they really good English speakers, they are such sweet girls. Andjelija and I automatically bonded because she has Yugoslavian roots so we were able to speak Serbian to each other. Adnana was also so adorable and she impressed me so much when she told me that she had read my blog before. She even ended up getting us Easter chocolates with a personalized note that she dropped off later on during the weekend.

I also got to finally meet Razvan. Razvan is to Anthony as Ioana is to me. Former student turned best friend. Razvan was Anthony’s student last year and is now a freshman at the university in Iasi. He was in town for the holiday as well and we got to spend some time with him. It was nice finally meeting him because I had talked to him many times before so I felt like I already knew him and just needed to put a face to the name.

Easter Sunday was spent at Anthony’s former gazda’s house. Like any typical EE family, they pulled out all the stops for us and we ended up have a 4 course meal. We visited Dana, who lives about 5 minutes away from Anthony, and we got to not only meet her family but also got a tour of her zoo. When I say zoo, I kind of mean it. This woman loves animals, especially birds. After battling with our eggs (I ended up being the undisputed champion) and our first course, we took our first food “pauza” and headed onto the property.¬†After passing by the newly constructed soccer field/basketball court, Dana, along with her 7 and 4 year old grandsons Luca and Mario took us past the¬†greenhouse¬†where we encountered: a cow, about 5 dogs, many hens, rabbits, some that were born that morning, geese,¬†pheasants¬† quails, ducks, and last but not least, TWO PEACOCKS. The woman has peacocks. I thought that was beyond awesome.

I left Anthony’s at around 7:30am on Monday morning and after¬†hitchhiking¬†into Iasi (about 50km), since absolutely nothing was¬†running¬†during the holiday, and sitting on a 7 hour long, 90 degree train, I am back home for a few more days until I leave again on Wednesday night for a training in Craiova.


Until then,

Va pup



2 Year Anniversary


Dear Peace Corps Romania Group 28,

Today, April 28, 2013, marks exactly two years since we stepped foot onto Romanian soil. Little did we know that we would become a family of 3o-something crazy PC Volunteers. I just want to say congrats to my fellow PCVs today and that I love each and every one of you. Thank you for being there for me through the good and the bad, sharing in the amazing moments that will be memories for the rest of my life, empathizing with me during my hardships, and rejoicing with me during my successes. Each of you has impacted me in one way or another and I am a much better person for it. You are all going to be in my heart forever.